Using Public Sources to Tap the ‘Hidden’ Job Market
There has been a longstanding complaint that the best jobs are ‘hidden’ from view. ‘It’s who you know,’ is often touted as an explanation for why we are not exposed to the jobs with the most attractive set of responsibilities, resources, and compensation.
This article will explain how job seekers can utilize public sources and learn about hidden job opportunities, which can place candidates in a more favorable position for consideration for a full-time job with a company.
What Exactly Is a ‘Hidden’ Job?
A hidden job is an open position that has not yet been posted publicly or published as a recruitment advertisement by a company. This could be because the company is not yet sure strategically whether they wish to fill the position at the current time, or perhaps a department is waiting for budgets to open so that a hire can be made.
Another reason could be that the company is hoping that it will be filled with an internal candidate.
In fact, some hidden jobs are never posted publicly – and companies fill these positions without the standard, routine advertisement-recruiter-interview-selection process. Sometimes, it’s an internal hire or transfer, or a specified outsider – perhaps you – will be assuming the new role.
Joys and Sorrows of Job Searching Online
As most of us have come to realize, searching for a job online is both a thrilling and a demoralizing experience. It is thrilling because we are exposed to hundreds if not thousands of opportunities that explain the position, requirements, responsibilities, and company in depth. Applying for the job requires just a few clicks or taps, and less than 20 minutes later, we’re done.
The wrenching, disheartening part of applying for jobs online is that we realize that once a job is posted online and we’ve applied, so have hundreds of others. Applicant tracking systems (ATSs), which serve to make the HR or recruiter’s life easier, do not do the same for the applicant. Indeed, nowadays, given the volume of applications, we often do not even receive the courtesy of an automated rejection email.
While it is still advisable to apply for jobs online, job-hunting efforts need to be expanded to include finding the hidden jobs that hundreds of other hopeful applicants do not know about.
Media and Blogs As Trusted Sources
If you aren’t doing so already, you should be reading and sharing all you can about your industry, via specific, focused websites and blogs. Besides gaining knowledge and domain expertise, you can read between the lines and learn about these hidden jobs.
For instance, an article about a company that has received venture financing most likely now has the funds to hire staff. A company that suddenly is advertising expansively throughout your favorite industry website may now have more budget.
For those more ‘advanced’ job seekers, make friends with the author or blogger. At some point, it would make sense to ask if they knew of any company that is expanding or looking to hire, and if they can make an introduction on your behalf. (Professional journalists would never do this, but industry bloggers, many of whom are unpaid, would gladly help or return a favor for an ardent reader.) Introductions can be as casual or formal as the situation requires.
As this blog has continued to emphasize, get out and network live and in real time. While industry conferences may attract the largest audiences, some of the best insider opportunities lurk inside smaller, more intimate gatherings where you can truly present yourself directly – and get the inside scoop on who’s hiring what, when, and where.
In fact, Meetup.com is a perfect way of bridging public sources for the hidden job market: the website posts its members’ events publicly to the widest audience possible. Yet, the discussions that take place almost always include information you could never learn about online.
Network – But Don’t Ask for a Job
This is old advice, but it’s worth reviewing again. Shortlist companies in your industry to which you would like to apply for a job. Take the time to cultivate a relationship with an insider – via LinkedIn or someone in your network – and at some point, ask for assistance.
During the call or email exchange, gather information without expressly looking for a job:
•Explain that you are part of a local Meetup.com group, and the organizer has asked for industry information that would be useful for members.
•Mention that you are often asked to contribute to blogs or media revolving around the industry, and you’re curious to learn more about the products and services that the company delivers.
In this way, you are appearing more as an influencer – not as a job-seeker.
These are tricky conversations to have, and they require practice. You want to come off as knowledgeable and helpful, but not desperate.
As conversations advance, you can explain that you are between opportunities, but working as a consultant. You can gently suggest that if they know of any opportunities, you would love to be considered or learn more.
In fact, this may be the best road to a hidden job with that company. You may actually begin working as a consultant for the company before being transferred to full-time status. This has become a frequent path these days, as companies can ‘try before they buy’ – and so can you, of course – and you can demonstrate your expertise and shine like the professional you are.
In conclusion, finding and applying for jobs that are non-public can fast-track a candidate into a sweet spot with an organization. Creating an opportunity will serve a job seeker in much more valuable ways than simply applying for one. It requires much more work – but is so much more satisfying, for both parties.
(Article Written By Jake Wengroff)
Comment by Jeanne
I've never thought of the possibility of finding a "hidden job". I wish I would have read this post last summer when I was desperately looking for a new job.
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